Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thursday at the Leela

Thursday I went to a meeting at the Leela. I brought the kids with me because I knew Ansel would love to play in the green space. We ate some Thai chicken curry for lunch after the meeting. Ansel ran around the grounds for an hour or so. It was another gorgeous day and we enjoyed getting out for awhile. Here are some shots of Ansel at play:

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Republic Day at Nandi Hills

Wednesday was Republic Day in India, so Travis had the day off. We decided to take a trip to the Nandi Hills to get away from the city. It was a beautiful day. We packed a lunch and headed for the hills. We got to the top of the Nandi Hills and walked around a bit. When it was time for lunch, we had to eat in the car because the monkeys in the park will attack if they see food. We were sitting in the car eating our lunch when I noticed the stroller had monkeys in it. I asked Travis if he could fight the monkeys off of our stroller and without realizing it he got out of the car with his sandwich. A monkey aggressively tried to get it away from him. Our driver told Travis to get back in the car. He was probably wondering what the crazy Americans were doing. This experience made me thankful that we had our rabies shots!

We finished lunch then went for a walk. Ansel spotted a playground. He was so excited that he started running. He has been very interested in the cricket games we have observed since our arrival and there was a group of kids playing cricket there. They were very excited to show him how to play. They laughed when he tried to hold the bat like a baseball bat. One boy said, "No, keep it on the ground! Please, watch me."

The kids all gathered around Ansel to talk to him. They asked him questions about where he is from and were very curious about his sister's name and his parents' names. It was good to be out in the park and watch him interact with the locals. They gave him a banana as we left. Against my better judgement I let him eat it in the car on the way home and prayed that he wouldn't get sick. He is doing great with no health issues. :)

Travis wanted us to experience drinking straight from a coconut. I thought it was great. Ansel liked holding the coconut, but didn't like the taste of it. We were tired from the day's activities and returned back to the city. It was a long drive home with two very tired kids.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


Tuesday I went to a playgroup to get out of the flat and meet some moms and kids. It was nice to be away while the housekeeper was cleaning. Ansel loved playing in the backyard at the house we visited. I really liked the lady of the house. I continue to be impressed with the hospitality of the people I have met. She is an Indian who has been living in the UK for the past few years. She spoke with a perfect British accent like those heard in BBC films. She offered Siena very delicious watermelon cut in perfect little pieces. Siena hadn't tried watermelon before and was so excited to eat it! We left early because there was a boy who was being too rough with Ansel. I thought it was unfair to tell him not to fight back when the other boy refused to stop. We went for a walk until our driver returned from bringing Travis home from work. I really liked the moms I met, but all of them live an hour or more away from us. The search continues for playmates for our kids.

First Day With Our Housekeeper

Monday was our first day with our housekeeper. She is a pleasant lady. It was a different experience having someone else in the house all day. It was nice to have the house cleaned while I played with the kids. It will be hard to get used to being called, "Madam." Culture shock! Our housekeeper called out to me all day, saying, "Madam, baby is crying!" "Madam, Baba (not sure what it means but it is what she was calling Ansel) is asking for you!" It was very strange to have someone else telling me as if I couldn't hear them myself. Our flat isn't that big. I can hear them, but when I am attending to one, the other usually must wait. After all, there is only one of me. I felt like she was in my way. The flat is not very small, but the open floor plan made it difficult to be away from her when I wanted my space during naptime. I was very overwhelmed. I debated in my mind if we should even have a housekeeper. It's pretty dusty here, and it is great having clean floors (that I don't have to clean!) I may be able to get used to this. It was wonderful to have a clean house, dinner prepared, and not once have to leave my kids to do housework.

One side note: Ansel is calling the housekeeper "Baba" as well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Karnataka Politics and a Quiet Weekend

The city of Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka, India. Last Saturday we had in interesting introduction to politics in India. As we prepared to start our day, our friend Agnes called and said that we should not venture out today because of the "band". We were confused, but we promised her that we would stay safe.

I picked up the newspaper from outside my door and we turned on the television to a news channel. There was video footage of a bus on fire, and constant updates about the political situation. Evidently the governor of the state and the chief minister were having a bit of a disagreement. The chief minister has been accused of a land scam, and to retaliate he and his party (the BJP) had called a "bandh". They were asking all stores to remain closed in protest of the governor's action.

We did some more research and I called the co-worker who we were scheduled to have lunch with. He said that we should come on over, as the bandh did not affect travel on the local sidestreets. We were a bit hesitant but decided to trust him and venture out. It was a very quiet day, with 1/10th the traffic of a regular Saturday. It was a nice change from the normally hectic Bangalore!

One result of the bandh was that the police had forbade the assembly of 5 or more people, so we also stayed home on Sunday morning. While we did venture out Sunday evening for dinner and some very stressful shopping, the rest of the weekend was very relaxing. One quick note about dinner, we were not very adventurous and had a quick meal of Taco Bell...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yay for new friends!

Today we spent time with our new friends, Agnes and Geoffrey. It was great to talk with them and see what life is like in an Indian home.

While we were there, Siena fell onto their marble floor and ended up with a bloody nose. Thankfully, it wasn't serious. I took her to see the pediatrician. He told me to give her acetimenophen for the next 3 days for pain. Agnes made delicious chicken, lady fingers (a vegetable I had never seen before), jeera rice (which has a great flavor with all the cumin seeds), hot chappatis, raita, and by far the best chai I have had so far in India. I baked some cookies. She said I will have to teach her to bake and she will teach me how to make Indian food. Sounds like a great trade off to me! It was refreshing to spend time with this Indian family. I am so thankful to have met them and I'm happy they live close by, only 9 minutes from our flat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A visit to the office

Last week Siena, Ansel, and Michelle traveled to Moog to meet Travis' coworkers. Siena thought it was a blast!

A visit with a friend

Today the kids and I went to see our new friend Joycee and her son at their flat. The kids had a ball with her beautiful 16 month old son. I am excited to get to know them over the next few months. It was nice to see Ansel laughing and playing with his sister and his new friend. Joycee has been here a month longer than we have, so it is good to talk things through with her since she is a few weeks ahead of us in adjusting to life in Bangalore. The visit was going well until she offered a container of fruit after lunch. Ansel walked up to the table, grabbed the fruit and dumped it over the balcony. I couldn't believe he did that. We had a talk about why he shouldn't have done that and Joycee was a very gracious hostess. Hopefully she will still want to get together again. We made plans, so it seems promising.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some things I've learned so far...

The dotted lines on the street are merely a suggestion, yet accidents are rare despite the crazy traffic in Bangalore.

If you spot an accident, one driver may threaten the other with a large slab of concrete and bang on his door with it. Should this happen to you, let your driver shake his head, proceed, and avoid the scene. It will give you a good laugh and you will be safe from any riot that might break out.

I prefer a fork to eating with my hands, but you know what they say, "While in India, do as the Indians do."

A pooja room makes a very beautiful broom closet.

If you tell your driver, "Your phone was ringing," he may mistakenly take you to the pharmacy.

Instead of "fruits and vegetables," you might see signs with "fruits and vegetariens."

There is no place quite like India.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Visit to Mysore

Mysore is a town three hours south of Bangalore. It is a the second largest city in the state of Karnataka and has many tourist attractions. We wanted to visit soon because some friends who live there are getting ready to move back to the US for a year.

Friday was a holiday at Travis' work so we were on the road late in the morning. After a pit stop for food on the way, we went directly to the Mysore Zoo.

While Ansel loved seeing all the animals, he wasn't too fond of all the attention he and Siena attracted. Every other person we saw wanted to pinch their cheeks and have their photo taken with them. We felt like a cross between celebrities and the animals in the zoo!

After a night in a hotel and a morning spent laying around the hotel room feeling a bit under the weather, we headed to our friends' house. It was a great afternoon visiting and watching the kids play. They offered lots of good advice on adapting to life here.

After our visit we stopped by the Mysore Palace for the famous lighting of the palace. The kids quickly tired of it, so we ended up leaving about 5 minutes before the lights were turned on. We did get one shot with the lights on as we drove away.

Overall the weekend was a lot of fun and we look forward to many more outings!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Family Haircut

Monday night we were driving home from visiting doctors and we stopped to get a haircut for me. Ansel chimed in, "I want a haircut too." Michelle didn't want to feel left out, so she joined in the fun. All four of us were crammed into a small room with the hairdresser you see pictured below and 2-4 other 'helpers'. The helpers seemed to be about 12 years old and had a blast chasing Ansel around the room and pinching Siena's cheeks. Total bill? 750 Rupees, or $16...

Fun in the Fountain

This photo is from Sunday, Ansel had a blast playing in the fountain at UB City. UB City is an enormous mall that would put many US malls to shame.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More shopping

We went to Commercial Street as recommended by some friends to look for some ladies' wear. I bought my first garment in India. A rust colored casual shirt/dress. As we walked out of the shop, some boys were playing in the street and I was sprayed with a bottle of water. It was very busy there. We saw tons of shops with all sorts of goods.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Found: A General Practitioners Group and Pediatrician

After our crazy day, we decided we needed to have a plan in place in case of an emergency. We made appointments with a general practitioner and a pediatrician. We were delighted with both and very happy to hear that the general practitioners are available 24/7 and also do home visits if needed. We are feeling much more comfortable after this discovery!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lalbaugh Botanical Gardens

Our kids in the back of the car with six palm trees surrounding them.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One Crazy Day

Sunday morning we went to a Bible church. We were the only expats there except for the speaker who was an Indian living in Canada. One of the elders was spoke about our position in Christ. It was interesting hearing the scenario he gave about our mark as being from a slum and "unadoptable." It was culturally different in the descriptions and the way he told the story. One thing I noticed when was giving a physical description of our Father, he said, "His driver got out and opened the door of his beautiful luxury vehicle and out stepped a very well dressed man." It was powerful to hear the God's word being read with their accents and the worship was beautiful. I felt out of place, since all but one or two women were wearing scarves on their heads during most of the service. There are a lot of young families at the church and I met a very sweet young mother named Agnes. She protected my children from the other ladies at the church. She instructed them not to pinch my kids faces. I think our kids, especially our son has had enough of that. It makes him very upset. I appreciated her so much. I hope to visit with her sometime over the next couple of weeks.

After church, we went to UB City to a place called Toscana for lunch. It was nice to eat at a restaurant that was very clean and had a lovely outdoor patio. The weather was gorgeous. We felt like we were having lunch in southern California. I seriously almost forgot where I was. We had pizza, pasta, and a delicious apple crumble--the tastes of home. I told my husband that I may be willing to stay in India for a longer assignment. After lunch, my husband went to pay for the bill and discovered his credit card was missing.

He thought he may have dropped it at the church, so we went back there to search for it. We never located the missing card.

After lunch we went to the beautiful Lalbaugh Gardens, where we bought some palm trees to put inside our apartment. It was a very hot day. We were all exhausted by the end.

We came home at last and decided to have a quick dinner: prepackaged vegan Indian food with steamed rice. We smelled something horrible while the rice cooker was cooking! "Oh no, we seriously just blew up the rice cooker?!" My husband brought the electrical component outside. The smell was awful. In the end, we had a laugh and carried on with dinner.

I was completely exhausted and it was only 6:30pm. Then my husband said to me, "What is that on your legs?" I looked down and noticed a rash. I didn't think much of it, it looked like heat rash, then we called a healthcare representative from our insurance company. I didn't have any of the other symptoms that would have made it more serious, until about five minutes after I hung up the phone. Chills, nausea, and diarrhea. I felt lightheaded. I think the stress of the situation was escalating how badly I was feeling.

We called some friends to find out about which hospital to go to. The ones they recommended were an hour away. Then we called our driver. Where was he? Unable to drive. Drinking at a party. To our disapointment, our carseats were in his car. At last, we had another driver who could come in a half an hour. Upon his arrival, we got into his little car with the kids in the car Indian-style. Our daughter in my lap. Our son on the seat without his carseat. Feeling like the worst parents in the world, we proceeded to the hospital. I felt like I was living in a bad dream.

We got a nearby hospital ER and immediately were stopped by a fierce looking guard. I asked for a bathroom. I had to pee really bad. I went through the crowded waiting room and around the corner. It was the moment I had been hoping would never come. I walked in to find merely a hole in the ground. I've been camping before. A hole in the ground, I may be able to handle, but no door in a crowded waiting room, and no toilet paper anywhere to be found? This was culture shock! I couldn't deal. I came out of the bathroom, thinking I have got to start carrying toilet paper. My name was called. I went into the hospital and found some version of a western toilet, and asked a nurse for some some toilet paper. She found some at last. Phew!

I finally was able to see a doctor. She told me that I was having an allergic reaction and needed an injection. I asked if there was a way around that and was thankfully prescribed some cream and an antihistamine. After a trip to the pharmacy, we were on our way home. I went to bed that night still completely nauseated and wondering if I was going to live. We agreed this had been the craziest day in India yet.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Culture Shock

I feel so uncomfortable and unsafe in our building. It is loud. There is a constant honking of horns. Culture shock is setting in. Friday my husband had planned to go to work, but I couldn't let him go. I bursted into tears when he was about to leave. It is what it is, but I regret that our three-year old son saw me. He comforted me saying, "It's going to be okay, Mommy, we are only in India." So sweet. I knew culture shock would happen. The books said it would.

I left behind everything familiar except for my husband and kids. It is a struggle to figure out what to eat, where to shop, where to worship, and how to live daily just because it is all so unfamiliar. We'll get there though. The people here are so different. We have much to learn about the culture. I feel like no one is really warming up to me, apart from a couple of expats who live an hour away, but at least everyone is very sweet to our kids. Already it sounds like our son will have many memories about his interactions with the locals.

Today we have an interview with a housekeeper. Pray that it goes well. It may be easier for me to get along here once we find someone to help out and to be here while my husband is at work so it isn't so lonely.

This afternoon we will be visiting with a couple we have been in correspondence with since we first heard of the possibility of moving to India. They have three kids and their daughter is just about our son's age. It will be a blessing to spend some time with people whom we can call friends. They serve the same God we do and have lived here for a few years.

I will feel comfortable here eventually. Again and again God is confirming that He is here. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our First Family Outing: Shopping

Today we went out to find some much needed household items: trash cans, some cleaning supplies, and groceries. It was difficult to look at the merchandise because immediately a salesperson would come over. It felt like they were "hovering" over every item reviewed. It was nice to have numbers of salespeople willing to help, but at the same time, when you are used to being able to look at goods without pressure, and add in the fact that everything around us is completely foreign, it was tough. Not the kind of relaxed, shopping experience that I enjoyed in my home country, where I knew where to find what exactly what I was looking for.

We found some gorgeous pillows to make our living room feel more like home. It should come as no surprise with all the beautiful textiles in India. The experience was interesting. Our kids turned nearly every head. People reached out to touch our three year old son's light hair and to squeeze his fair cheeks. Our eight month old daughter was content to chew on her feet and watch the crowds of people around her. The majority of the people who were intrigued by our kids were groups of young women and teens. Their warm smiles were a comfort in a time of so many unknowns.

We ate lunch in a mall food court. The vegetarian meal included naan, parathas, choley, and dal--every item was delicious. There was a cucumber and yogurt sauce and a cabbage garnish, that probably would have been good, but for health and safety we avoided them and told our son to do the same. He didn't understand. It was tough to explain to him that what was considered a healthy choice at home could make him sick here. It was fun to dip our breads; the food was tasty and not too spicy.

Upon finishing our meal, I nursed our daughter. My husband was approached by a man who said, "Baby, milk, in bathroom." Are you kidding? I was completely covered up apart from my darling daughter's little feet hanging out of the nursing cover. I was annoyed by his request for me to feed my daughter in a dirty bathroom. I continued nursing for a few minutes and then finished her feeding in the car while the driver and my husband stood outside.

At the grocery store, we felt completely overwhelmed. It painstakingly took us nearly two hours to buy what would have usually taken a only few minutes. We had to get acquainted with different food labels and nutritional information, not to mention finding groups of items in a new store. Avoiding produce was more difficult than I expected for our fruit and vegetable-loving family. We bought a ton of bottled water (yet I think it will only last a week) and a few imported food items that were familiar. The rest of the items were household paper products and mosquito fighting plug-ins. By the end, we felt like we might pass out from exhaustion, due to a long day and total lack of sleep.

In a few hours, we will be meeting with those who have gone before us, some people who have also left their home country to live here in India. Should be exciting!


This morning our landlord and the family who takes care of our building came to help us get our room unlocked. We had seen the caretakers earlier in the morning cooking food on the street. They were dressed in beautiful colored garments without any shoes. The young woman had a happy demeanor. Her bright orange saree was very ornate and she had two rings on her toes. Her daughter stood by her side while she swept our hall and stairs with a very short-handled handmade broom, our son seemed fascinated by her little girl. Seeing how someone else here is living makes the fact that we had to take cold showers this morning seem pretty insignificant. We realize that we are accustomed to having so much. This morning we chose not to focus on what we are lacking, but instead to be thankful.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day Two of Travel

We spent a night in Frankfurt and flew from there to Bangalore. The kids were great on the plane. They slept a good portion of the trip. The Indian food on the plane was delicious! It made us even more excited about the time we will spend eating southern Indian food. We were exhausted upon our arrival to Bangalore. We got off of the plane and the smell was overwhelming. I could hardly breathe. We got through customs and went to baggage claim. There was so much going on. "Big Pimpin'" was blaring in the background.

We collected our bags, everything and everyone arrived safely. We waited a long time for our car and driver before we realized that there was some miscommunication with the driver and no one was coming to meet us at the airport. It was just about then that our eight and a half month old daughter started crying hysterically and then the unfortunate thing happened. Her pacifier fell to the ground. She was very tired and very hungry. Eventually we found a driver and car to take us to our apartment, but our baby was so upset.

Finally, because of our God's goodness, we got all nine of the bags, both kids in car seats, and the double jogger into/on top of the car. The India learning curve was huge. I fed our daughter rice cereal, until I realized she was more tired than hungry. She fell asleep pacifier in mouth and with the spoon I was trying to feed her with in her grip. We got home at roughly 4 am to find the security guards for our building were nowhere to be found. My husband was very determined and jumped over the rod iron gate in search of the guards. I was so excited to see our house in India. When we got into the building at last, we saw that we were locked out of the master bedroom. We would have to wait until our landlord could come over and unlock it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our Expectations

For those of you who don't know, our family is moving to Bangalore, India for a nine month work assignment. We are excited about this opportunity!

An experience of a lifetime lies ahead, so we are writing down some thoughts about our expectations.

-To spend nine months (give or take) in a country like none we have ever experienced before.
-To learn about the culture and the language.
-To invest time into relationships with Indians in Bangalore.
-To find community.
-To experience authentic Indian cuisine and get to know the flavor of a real chai.
-To ride an elephant.
-To explore the countryside and wild places around Bangalore.
-To update our blog daily with our experiences (photographs, too, a picture is worth a thousand words!)
-To give our kids a taste of another world. Young as they are, they will be changed by this experience.

Day One of Travel

We began our journey in Reno, NV. In the airport we met an American family who lives in Shanghai. The husband and wife are international teachers. They told us moving to India will be the best decision we have ever made. This is very different from most of the responses we have had since deciding to move to Bangalore. We are looking forward to what is in store.